Public Law & Policy

Berkeley Law offers a rich array of courses on Public Law and Policy.  These courses examine the law, institutions, and norms that regulate the structure of government, the processes of governmental decision-making, and the substantive policies that order the relationship between government and the citizenry.  Berkeley Law’s offerings in this area span a broad range of subject matter domains and include both theoretical and black-letter courses.  The required course in Constitutional Law is essential to almost all areas of practice and career interests, and provides important preparation for the bar exam.  Many other courses are of general interest to students who plan to work in federal, state, or local government, or who aim to practice in an area of public regulation, or who seek to influence public policy at any level.

Below is a description of some of the key courses in the Public Law and Policy curriculum.

Administrative Law

This course examines the fundamental legal principles that govern federal administrative agencies, including legislative, executive and judicial control of administrative action, the exercise of administrative power, and structures of agency decision-making.

California Constitutional Law

This course covers general state constitutional law issues, the relationship between the state and federal constitutions, and selected topics on the California Constitution, such as amendment and revision, separation of powers, speech, religion, privacy, equal protection, and same-gender marriage.

Constitutional Law

This required course, which is strongly recommended in the first year, provides an introduction to judicial review, federal power, the checks and balances in the constitutional design, and the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Employment Law

This course covers the legal principles governing the employer-employee relationship as they are found in the common law, in federal and state constitutions, statutes, and administrative regulations.  The course focuses on employee and employer rights under contract, tort and constitutional law principles, as well as under regulatory schemes such as the Fair Labor Standards Act and analogous state laws, workers compensation laws, and worker health and safety laws.

Federal Courts

This course covers the constitutional and statutory role of courts in the federal system, focusing on the jurisdiction of the federal courts, their relation to the state courts, and the roles of federal and state law.

Federal Indian Law

This course examines the legal relationships among American Indian tribes, the United States, and individual states.  Topics covered include the history of American Indian law, conflicting tribal, state, and federal jurisdiction over persons and property on Indian lands, tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and natural resources on Indian lands.

First Amendment

This course covers freedom of the press, speech, association and religion, combining coverage of the major issues with in-depth analysis.

Health Law

This course covers emerging questions in health law that cut across problems of managed care, access to treatment, regulation of genetic medicine, information privacy, biotechnology, intellectual property, individual constitutional rights, discrimination, reproductive issues, euthanasia, malpractice, medical research, and more.

Immigration Law

This course surveys the legal, historical, and political considerations that shape U.S. immigration law. The course will review the constitutional basis for regulating immigration into the United States; the constitutional rights of noncitizens in the country; the history of U.S. immigration law and policy; the contours of the immigration bureaucracy; the admission and deportation of nonimmigrants and immigrants; refugee and asylum law; administrative and judicial review; undocumented migration; and citizenship and naturalization.

Labor Law

This course considers the fundamental legal principles affecting labor relations in the private sector workplace, as incorporated in the National Labor Relations Act and related legislation.  Several topics will be reviewed, including union organizing and elections, collective bargaining, strikes, boycotts, arbitration, and individual employee rights within unions.


This course examines the legislative process, the relationship between the common law and statutes, and statutory interpretation. It focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of statutory interpretation, including overall theories of interpretation, the canons of statutory interpretation, and the use of legislative history.

Local Government Law

This course will investigate the law of American cities, counties, and special districts, as well as the racial, environmental, and economic impacts of local policy.  The course explores the balance of power among local, state, and federal governments; hierarchy and specialization among local governments; and the nature of local democracy, including direct citizen influence of local lawmaking through initiatives, referenda and alternative voting schemes, and non-electoral participation.